11.01.2010

WORN OUT?


When is something too old and worn to keep enjoying? I thought about this when I decided to start tidying up the garden for winter. We've had such a warm autumn that I still have blooms everywhere, but the forecast suggests the first frosts are on the way.

This shirt was at the top of my pile of garden clothes, most of which are cast-offs from Theo's high school skate-boarding days (those pants must have iron in them, and they have lots of pockets, some with zippers, perfect for the garden.) My father bought the shirt for me when I was in high school; I will never forget going shopping with him at Bob's Sports in downtown Stamford. I think it may have been the only time we ever went clothes shopping together.

My father is a great person to shop with because he is impulsive, never makes lists, and feels anything he wants at that moment is what he'll buy. This perhaps explains why he does not often shop.  That day I came home with the beautiful apricot colored man's shirt for myself, and a camel colored wide wale corduroy jacket. In those days it was quite cool for women to wear men's clothing--with miniskirts or bellbottoms, of course. I think I wore that jacket every day for the next fifteen years; it has disappeared, sadly. But I still have the shirt, which is coming undone. It is past mending, and I try to remember not to put it on to go to the post office where I might bump into people I know.

But I wear it in the garden all the time. I cannot bring myself to get rid of it. And why should I? Until the back splits, and the holes in the elbows spread to my shoulders, I think I will hold onto my shirt. It always makes me remember that shopping spree with my dad.

I could barely bring myself to cut back most of my plants, either. Some were still blooming beautifully--I found a thick stand of hardy toad lilies, Tricyrtis, tucked in behind a hydrangea. I had forgotten about it, and brought some branches inside to enjoy those orchid-like flowers. And my yellow buddleia, which straggles along through summer and then goes wild in September, was still sending out sprigs, so I brought those in too. I guess that you know that things--whether flowers or shirts--are too old and worn when you stop wanting them close to hand.

13 comments:

quintessence said...

Love the analogy. Since I have a brown thumb, however, I can relate better to the shirt story. If I still fit into the adorable suede trimmed b/w herringbone outfit my father bought me in about 6th grade, I would still have it - no need to throw out the memory laden shirt - perfect for the garden!

Carol Bass @ A Bird in Hand said...

I completely relate. I have an old flannel shirt that is thread-bare and has paint stains, but it is still my favorite for around the house and garden. I considered tossing it this year, but just can't. I think when I can no longer wear it, I may cut it up and make something like a pillow, a teddy, or if nothing else, a pincushion! I bet you have five more years left in your shirt, at least!!

Madgew said...

Beautiful memories.

Vava (aka Virginia) said...

Would SO hold onto that shirt as long as you can. It's rare - shopping days with Dad! Love this!

Lindsey said...

Love this - as I love so much of your writing. Are you in Cambridge, MA, today?! (I am here!!??) My review of your book, which I loved, is here:
http://www.adesignsovast.com/2010/11/slow-love/

sandrajonas.com said...

What a wonderful shirt!! Made me feel good knowing I am not alone wearing 'memory clothes' in the garden. Somehow I feel enveloped in love.

Thank you Dominique for showing us that age is fine and we just keep improving.

Anonymous said...

Keep that shirt...it is a part of you that reminds you of the tender bond with your father. I can totally relate!

One Woman's Journey said...

I can relate to all of this story.
My basket full of gardening clothes seem to be my favorite. Worn, faded and years old - I will not give them up.
One of my daughter's commented on a beige cashmere sweater not long ago. I told her - this was the first of this type I bought 50 years ago. It seems to be a better quality then what I see in the stores. Was in my garden stack and now I have moved it to the better grade of clothes (going to the market clothes).
Thank you for this post. Same thoughts as yours on my garden.

SweetRetreat said...

I guess we all have our favorite old clothes. I don't even pretend they are just for gardening, or work around the house. No apologies.

Keep the shirt and the special memories.

Anonymous said...

I too grew up in Stamford, Dominique and well remember Bob's Sports on Bedford Street. I get sentimental about my vintage clothes and just "save" them as a piece of a time capsule. I've read your books and really enjoyed them and I have your blog book marked. Seeing the summer from your veiw point is inspiring. I first learned of your blog when I heard you speak up in Maine this past July. A few years ago I had been to your talk at the GEC in Greenwich when your parents attened with you. That was so charming. I am so impressed with your slow love work. Keep it up.

Barbara said...

I remember Bob's sports (yeah, I'm from Stamford, too). I have often wondered whether your dad knew my dad, who was a doctor too. My father was Dr. Norman Jarvik. Does that ring any bells?

Jayne said...

Beautiful post! Old clothing and fathers - we can all relate! And the last blooms of SUmmer are so rewarding! Love your butterfly bush! On SUnday I took a bouquet to my father who is in a long term care facility - pink phlox, dahlias and coleus - all, like him, bravely waiting the frost.

Dizzythecat said...

They can take my beloved, torn, stained, macerated and mutilated "Williams Rugby" t-shirt after I die.
But not before.
And I plan on living a looooong time.